Snake Identification Guide

Snakes Sorted by Total Body Length


The identification keys are based on color, pattern and other physical characteristics. Each snake identification page has two options, A and B follow the options through the pages.

A - Snake has round pupils and no heat sensing pits --- Click Here - Section 4

B - Snake has vertical pupils and heat sensing pits --- Click Here - Section 2

2 - Venomous

Distribution of the Timber Rattlesnake in Virginia

3 - Venomous

Northern copperheads are found statewide.

** Note: Often the harmless Northern Watersnake and Brown Watersnake are mistaken for the venomous Eastern Cottonmouth. When compared side by side as in the photo below, it is difficult to understand how this mistaken identity occurs.

4 - Harmless

The harmless Eastern Hog-nosed Snake is also well known for it acting ability, which includes hissing loudly, spreading of the neck to appear larger and playing dead. The snake rarely bites but will strike repeatedly with mouth closed.

5 - Harmless

6 - Harmless

7 - Harmless

8 - Harmless

9 - Harmless

10 - Harmless

  • A - If white to cream colored lateral stripe on scale rows 1 and 2; 4 brown stripes on venter (belly), outer 2 more prominent but stripes may fuse in some individuals to form a brownish venter (belly) with a cream colored midventral stripe; no dark stripes on sides of neck then the snake is a Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata septemvittata).

  • B - If no light lateral stripes; venter cream colored with 2 rows of black, half-moon shaped spots; three thin dark stripes on each side of neck then the snake is an Eastern Glossy Swampsnake (Liodytes rigida rigida). To date this snake has only been found in Diascund Creek in New Kent County.

11 - Harmless

  • B - One or two preocular scales present; loreal, if present, not elongated. ----- Click Here

12 - Harmless

13 - Harmless

  • A - It the dorsum (back) is gray to brown with a row of paired, small black to dark-brown spots, which may border a light-brown middorsal stripe and one or more of which may be connected with crossbars; patch of dark pigment on supralabials 3 and 4 then the snake is a Northern Brownsnake (Storeria dekayi dekayi).

14 - Harmless

15 - Harmless

  • A - In cross section the body is shaped like a loaf of bread; venter (belly) flat; middorsal scales weakly keeled. ----- Click Here - Section 16

16 - Harmless

  • A - If the dorsum (back) has chest-nut brown blotches bordered in black; pattern on the top of the head looks like a spear point then the snake is a Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus).

17 - Harmless

18 - Harmless

  • A - If the dorsal (back) blotches brown and squarish, these alternate with similar blotches along sides; venter (belly) brownish without distinct spots then the snake is a Brown Watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota).

  • B - If dorsal (back) blotches occur as dark-brown crossbands anteriorly but but change to alternating dorsal and lateral blotches posteriorly; venter (belly) pattern of half-moon shaped spots or peppering concentrated along the borders then the snake is a Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon).

19 - Harmless

20 - Harmless

21 - Harmless

  • A - If a uniformly light-brown dorsum (back) with a dark-brown to black head and snout; neck band of black, 3-4 scales wide separated from the head by a light brown band then the snake is a Southeastern Crowned Snake (Tantilla coronata).

  • B - If dorsum (back) is uniformly brownish or gray with yellow collar on neck; collar may be complete or broken at the dorsal midline then the snake is a Ringneck Snake (Diadophis punctatus).

22 - Harmless

23 - Harmless

  • B - Dorsum (back) with longitudinal stripes of red and black, or dorsum black with alternating red and black patches on sides; dorsal scale rows greater than or equal to 18. ----- Click Here - Section 24

24 - Harmless

25 - Harmless

26 - Harmless

27 - Harmless

28 - Harmless

29 - Harmless

  • A - If cream colored to whitish dorsum (back) with red blotches bordered anteriorly and posteriorly with black but faded on sides; venter (belly) white; snout elongated and overlaps lower jaw then the snake is a Northern Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea copei).

30 - Harmless

  • B - If the dorsum (back) is gray to brown with reddish blotches distinctly bordered by black; venter (belly) with black and white checkerboard pattern; or body red rings separated from yellow rings by black rings that do not meet at the ventral midline then the snake is an Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum).

Last update: 03/15/2017

Box Turtle Reporting

VHS Amazon Smile

Spadefoot Reporting